Should you be a Facebook friend, or follow me on Twitter, you’ll already know a little (ok, a lot!) about my wonderful weekend at the Narberth Book Fair. But I really can’t let the weekend pass without sharing more, with heartfelt thanks to all the authors – some I already consider good friends, and others who it was such a pleasure to meet for the first time – who made me feel so very welcome as part of their world.
And particular thanks must go to Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore (and their wonderfully supportive team): the work that goes into the organisation of an event like this is immense (Judith’s blog post will give you a flavour), and their efforts have been so greatly appreciated by everyone involved. Quite understandably, after nine glorious years, they have decided that their writing careers must now take precedence over their support to the writing community, and this will be the last event unless someone decides to take up the reins. But what a wonderful way to bow out!
Both authors also had exciting news about forthcoming books (how on earth have they found time to write?!). Thorne’s long-awaited prequel to A Time For Silence – called Covenant – will be published in June 2020. And Judith’s new stand-alone book, The Memory, will be published by Honno Press in March 2020. “Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate” – how can I possibly resist that one? I think I can quite safely say that you’ll be seeing reviews of both here on Being Anne.
Let me focus on existing friends first. If you’ve read my reviews of Carol Lovekin’s Ghostbird and Snow Sisters, you’ll already know how very much I love her books (and the lady herself): I’m very much looking forward to the publication of her forthcoming book by Honno, Wild Spinning Girls, in February 2020. Last year, we were so excited to meet each other that we totally forgot to take any photos – this year, we made sure we didn’t make the same mistake. And the photographer for this one was another friend, Janey Stevens, about whom you’ll be hearing a great deal more when the first of her supernatural thrillers – written as Eliza Jane Tulley – is published.
And while I’m talking about “old friends”, I really must mention the wonderful Lizzie Lamb (and lovely husband Dave, resplendent in his kilt – despite the cold wind – for much of the event) whose journey to attend (while towing a caravan) almost equalled my own. I’ll be looking forward to her next work-in-progress, tentatively called I’ll Be In Scotland, when it’s published next year.
It was also a real pleasure to catch up with Cheryl Rees-Price and Jan Newton, whose Wales-based crime novels I’ve very much enjoyed…
… and the lovely Alex Martin, who (as well as being excellent company) had news of her forthcoming new trilogy in the Katherine Wheel series, taking the story into the time of WW2. The first will be Willow – novella sized but still printed as a paperback – and it will bridge the generation gap between Speedwell and Woodbine.
And sharing her table, a new friend – Alex Craigie, whose Someone Close To Home I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing (and adding to my Books of the Year list) only last week. And I’m delighted to report that Alex has a new book out next month – Acts of Convenience – set in the near future where healthcare is not dependent on need but on ability to pay, and where old age and chronic problems are swept away with expedient legislation. I can’t wait – and I guarantee you’ll be hearing more here on Being Anne.
And some more new friends? Alison Layland and I have planned to meet so many times, but Narberth proved to be our moment – and she even had a spare chair that became “home” for the event. As well as writing the most wonderful books of her own with Honno, Alison is a translator and she brought along some of the books she’s worked on – one of them, Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas, is an Amazon Kindle First this month, free for Prime members and 99p if chosen by others as part of the promotion.
And then there was the lovely Liz Hinds – you’ll maybe remember my review of the thoroughly excellent The Dog-walking Club a few weeks ago, and it was a delight to share her excitement in being at her first book fair, with two of the loveliest photos…
It was also an immense pleasure to finally meet Juliet Greenwood – I love her books, and I’ve previously shared reviews of both We That Are Left and The White Camellia (both highly recommended). You might already have heard that Juliet will now be published by Orion – her first book with them will be published in 2021, and I’m so looking forward to that! I can’t find a photo of me with Juliet (I am hopeless!) but it does give me the excuse to share one of my favourite photos, with the undoubted star of the show – Juliet’s wonderful companion, the lovely (and rather famous) Miss Phoebe.
I must apologise to everyone I haven’t mentioned here – there were so many others I spent time with, and enjoyed every moment of their company, but this post would never have been completed.
As well as the many hours of conversation and the best of company, I also attended three of the excellent writers’ workshops – with Lizzie Lamb, Juliet Greenwood and Judith Arnopp.
I learned so much! Lizzie’s such an excellent speaker – her talk was called “A 10 point guide to writing a novel”, covering the basics, drawing on her own experience of what works (and what doesn’t), and inspiring her audience by showing that being a writer is within everyone’s grasp. Juliet told us about her journey to being a published writer, from her beginnings with People’s Friend and Women’s Weekly, making a pitch and securing an agent and publisher, the importance of genre, and the realities of life as an author (and there were some surprises there). Judith’s talk was all about research for historical fiction – primary and secondary sources, portraiture and research trips, accuracy versus plot, and when to stop researching and start writing – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Three excellent authors who were passionate about their subjects and happy to share – and a real inspiration for anyone with an urge to write.
The whole event – once the readers had left, the banner was taken down, and we’d packed away the tables and folded up the tablecloths – was wonderfully rounded off by a rather lovely meal at nearby Plas Hyfryd, a celebration of an event that everyone involved so thoroughly enjoyed.
The pictures I’ve shared are not all my own – just the slightly blurred ones – and I must credit Lizzie, Janey, Carol, Juliet, Liz, Alison and the Narberth Book Fair website for those I’ve “borrowed” (and if there’s anyone I’ve forgotten, my sincere apologies). Thank you everyone for the hard work and the many happy memories… Narberth Book Fair was an absolute triumph, and one of the most enjoyable weekends I’ve had in a very long time. A few final photos? All borrowed? My absolute pleasure…